Vietnam: Central highlands province invites investment in 53 projects

The Hanoitimes – With advantages in agricultural technology and high-quality tourism, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is calling for investment in 53 projects, including three national-level projects and 50 provincial-level ones.
The three national projects include the project on restoring Da Lat-Thap Cham railways and upgrading Da Lat train stations for tourism; building Dau Giay-Lien Khuong expressway; and constructing Lam Dong high-tech agriculture zone.
Besides, the province is also seeking opportunities for cooperation in production, business and market expansion with relevant businesses on safe and high quality products, travel routes, tours as well as new travel products.
Nguyen Van Yen, Vice Chairman of Lam Dong People’s Committee, said that tourism and agriculture are two areas that the province will focus on in the future to exploit its strength of modern agriculture combining with agricultural tourism, as well as focusing on building the Da Lat – Lam Dong agricultural product brand to promote in the country and export to the world.
Lam Dong has the largest areas under vegetables, flowers and tea in the country, Yen said, adding that high-tech agriculture is practised on nearly 51,800ha, or 20 per cent of the province’s farmlands.
The province also received 5.9 million visitors this year, including over 400,000 foreigners, an increase of 8.7 per cent year-on-year.
However, Yen said, the province was yet to do justice to its potential and strengths, and the province hoped to find ways to mitigate that.
Despite great potential, investment attraction to Lam Dong in recent years has not met expectations. The province currently has 103 foreign investment projects with a modest registered capital of US$528 million, plus 820 domestic investment projects with a total registered capital of VND115 trillion. Most of them are deployed by medium and small scale enterprises.
Enterprises have difficulty accessing land due to the limited land funds and high land transfer prices. Meanwhile, the legal system is still limited, causing difficulties in project implementation. The province has no international border, making it difficult to export local agricultural products.
According to experts, Lam Dong should strengthen the reform of administrative procedures to improve its competitiveness index in an aim to better attract investment.
Associate Professor, Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, Head of Vietnam Economics Institute, proposed that Lam Dong should prioritize large enterprises instead of offering preferential policies for small and medium enterprises at the moment, due to the fact that leading businesses would entail small and medium enterprises.
In addition, the province needs to step up the attraction of high quality human resources, strengthen the linkage model of new-style cooperatives in the field of agriculture, and protect the ecological environment – the local issues that would determine the attractiveness for investors.
Dang Kim Son, former head of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agricultural and Rural Development, said Lam Dong imported 90 per cent of all the seeds it needs, a high-risk strategy because of possible market volatility. The province, thus, should produce its own high-quality seeds and upgrade its electricity, water, drainage, transportation and weather forecast systems.
Robert Hejzak, an investment expert from the International Finance Corporation, said FDI often helped improve labor productivity and would help Vietnam become competitive in the ASEAN Free Trade Area.
He said that the province should focus on investment promotion and create favorable conditions for potential investors.
Caption: High-tech agriculture is practised on nearly 51,800ha of Lam Dong’s farmlands.